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Inbox: It's going to be a battle right out of the gate

The Packers have the weapons to spread production

LB Preston Smith
LB Preston Smith

Lori from Brookfield, WI

As we count down the days and hours until Game 1...

Sing the Anthem, hands over hearts.

Coin flips. Whistle blows. The game starts.

Football season

Is the reason

Hope ignites in green and gold hearts.

I can think of no better way to kick off the 2022 season than a Lori poem. Good morning!

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Mike, despite what people think, I despise predictions too.

The cool thing about predictions is you're either wrong or nobody cares.

Matt from Cottage Grove, WI

Who will put together a better regular-season stat line: Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon?


Jacob from Niagara, WI

With the start of the Packers' regular season on Sunday against Minnesota, I would like to ask, what is one thing that you do to prepare yourself for the beginning of the regular season (e.g. watching a favorite football movie, etc.)?

I have two traditions – the first is I take a photo with my son before the first game (or road trip) of the season. So, we'll do that before I leave for the airport Saturday. I also will take a lap around Lambeau before leaving the stadium on Friday. That's something I've done since I started working here in 2016. I love history – American history, Packers history, anything. So, I always enjoy taking a minute to appreciate the field Allen Johnson and his staff have beautifully crafted and all the memories that are about to be made on those blades of grass.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. The Packers' depth chart shows Keisean Nixon as backup kick returner. What kind of history does he have as a returner, either with the Raiders or preseason with Green Bay? Thanks.

I didn't know much about Nixon's returning background until I took a trip over to Pro Football Reference, which informed me Nixon has six career kickoff returns. Without Malik Taylor, Rico Gafford and Tyler Goodson, Nixon is the next man up behind Amari Rodgers.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

I've been out of town for a week and am still getting caught up on II, but I saw some questions about non-Mason Crosby kick-offers. What makes a punter's and kicker's skill set so different? From my perspective both need a big leg so why couldn't a punter kick off and a kicker punt?

I think it's more mechanics than just brute leg strength. Plenty of punters can handle it – Tim Masthay did for a short time in Green Bay – but I just think there are more parallels between the kickoff motion and kicking a field goal. I'd be interested to hear Tim's thoughts on it someday.

JT from Saskatoon, Canada

With regards to the concern everyone has had with the new WR group and replacing Adams/MVS I wanted to offer a bit of perspective. The two former Packers amassed 1,730 yards last year. To counter the team drafted Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson and signed Sammy Watkins. Dispersing that season total among the three players means each player only needs 34 yards/game. Never mind that Allen Lazard should eclipse his 30 yards/game average. Likewise, Robert Tonyan should have no problem surpassing his 12 yards/game average as well.

I'm not going to rewrite my "Moneyball" comparison from the offseason but again no one player could have replaced Adams. He's too talented, too experienced, and too dominant. But in the aggregate, the Packers have the weapons – and quarterback – to spread his production.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

What do we know about Minnesota's new OC and play-caller? Other than utilizing a West Coast set, what wrinkles do you think he will bring to MN? By the way, a huge victory for our D will be to keep Dalvin Cook under 100 yards.

Matt LaFleur and his staff have a much better idea of what they'll see Sunday than I do. But given head coach Kevin O'Connell's and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips' ties to Sean McVay, I expect to see similarities to what the Rams do on offense. What we know is the Vikings will want to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers – and Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson are three of the best. When you factor in what Green Bay has defensively, it's going to be a battle right out of the gate.

Erwin from Leesburg, GA

Thank you for II. Read it every day since Vic. How has Kirk Cousins fared against the Pack as far as rating, completion percentage, TD-to-INT ratio in all Packers-Vikings games since his arrival? Cumulative. What does that picture tell you and please post the numbers if you can. Wondering how you two see that picture. Thank you.

Cousins has fared OK. He's 3-3-1 lifetime against Green Bay, completing 148 of 223 passes for 1,879 yards, 15 touchdowns and three INTs (109.31 passer rating). The big thing is pressure. The Packers have sacked him 15 times in those seven games. The front needs to get home.

Brian from Menominee, MI

If Za'Darius does happen to get a sack Sunday, do you think Aaron Rodgers will hurry to the line and quickly run a play while Z is crawling 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage doing his celebration? They could gain back five yards and potentially get a free play.

I like it. Gotta keep 'em honest, right?

Jerad from Fitchburg, WI

I laughed at the differences on the injury report: 11 Packers and one Viking. Here is hoping that list shrinks in the next couple days!

It's nothing to be too alarmed about. Lazard's ankle injury was a little bad luck but pretty much everyone else is dealing with injuries we knew about.

Connor from Grand Rapids, MI

It seems Matt LaFleur has been snubbed as coach of the year due to "the Packers being good before he got here." With all the questions about WR is this finally the year he gets recognized as a driving force to how good this team has been the last three, make that four, years?

The pundits can believe whatever they wish but you want proof of how fruitful the LaFleur years have been in Green Bay? Nathaniel Hackett is the Broncos' head coach, and Justin Outten and Luke Getsy are NFL offensive coordinators. The NFL has taken notice. Hopefully, the public in general does too at some point.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

In regard to special teams – punt coverage in particular – fans love to see their punter send one skyward, with a carry of, say, 55 yards, enough to make the returner backpedal. But, a shorter kick (still with hang time) is an easier play for those who need to close in and make a tackle (and may of course lead to a fair catch). How will Packers' punter Pat O'Donnell be booting it? Does Rich Bisaccia have a tendency in this regard, or is it game-situational?

O'Donnell can punt it with the best of them, but we still have much to learn about what the Packers' strategy will be on punts this year. That's something Bisaccia was holding close to the vest last month. NFL teams are looking for a tenth of a second in hangtime for every yard, though. If O'Donnell does that, the gunners are expected to take it from there.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Great piece on Jack Coco, Weston. Hope you didn't jinx anything. His is a story that's easy to root for.

I think the un-jinx-able part of his story is that Coco is playing with house money by even making it this far. He didn't even snap during his final year at Georgia Tech, but thanks to a lot of hard work, Coco went from a longshot to being the only undrafted rookie to make the 53. And he's not complacent. Coco knows this all can end tomorrow, so he's making the most of today.

Forrest from Albany, WI

I recently read an article about how the Rams are using data and science as an injury prevention tool. Do you have any information that you can share about what the Packers are doing in this area?

The Packers are on top of it. They've been ahead of the curve for 10 years when it comes to incorporating analytics and GPS into injury prevention. But I can't give you many specifics. That's a competitive advantage thing for Green Bay.

Joe from Ormond Beach, FL

This past week Bart Scott predicted Devonte Wyatt will be defensive rookie of the year and that he is the next Aaron Donald. Any thoughts?

Can't wait.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

"LeRoy Butler: Leaping into Canton" is simply outstanding! I loved every minute of it. Who were his teammates that he called to stand together as he spoke at his HOF party? I recognize some, but not all of them. Also, seeing Wes in the background smiling during that segment is priceless.

I am so freaking proud of Tyler Gajewski. It was incredible being in Canton and watching him gather all this great B-roll of enshrinement week. He and Taylor Rogers worked so hard to make that happen. When it comes to editing, Adam Hoebelheinrich is one of the best in the business. It made for a 22-minute masterpiece. I hope you all check it out.

Thomas from Richmond, VA

When a player is activated or moved off the practice squad onto the roster, if the team wants to put him back on the practice squad, does he have to clear waivers again?

Well, it depends… *Spofford voice* If the player is elevated to the gameday roster, he does not need to be waived. He just goes back to the practice squad. If the player is signed to the active roster, then he must clear waivers to go back on the p-squad.

Jeff from Glendale, AZ

How did the Packers get so lucky to not have to travel west of Minnesota for a road game all season long? Lucky stars?

They made up for it with their flights east.

Jim from St Pete Beach, FL

Wes, why did Mike participate in a meaningless preseason mid-week chat? He got off to a great start last season, so certainly it wasn't out of concern of being too rusty next week. I just think it put him at unnecessary risk.

I tried telling the ol' senior writer not to, but he didn't listen. It's Spoff's world. I just occasionally feed it.

Jeff from Littlefork, MN

I need help for Sunday. I've got tickets for the season opener in MN. I try to wear appropriate jerseys on game day. Road whites; home greens. I also believe in wearing a jersey for an active player in the game. But I understand the green jersey is a better in-your-face to the home team. Some Vikings jerseys are white and it wouldn't be as clear that I was the invading enemy in U.S. Bank Stadium. I've got green Jaire Alexander and AJ Dillon or a white David Bakhtiari. What do I wear? Just trying to do my 1/11th!

I would wear your green jerseys. Make yourself at home.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

Mike, you rightly suggested the other day that Nick Collins' career was on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory. Had that played out, it would've meant Ted Thompson's first two draft picks were HOFers. Adding Davante Adams and David Bakhtiari as potential HOFers, would make it four total. Consider that HOF GM Ron Wolf didn't draft a single HOF player while GM of the Packers, Thompson is vastly underrated.

I will argue until the day my pen is taken from me that Ted Thompson was one of the best pure talent evaluators in modern NFL history. People gripe about Thompson not signing enough free agents. Sure, but those same folks need to recognize how many Thompson draft picks received second contracts with the Packers, and rightfully so.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I'm not a stats guy, but the concept of AR12 throwing 500 TDs, a feat that would put him in even more rarified air, has me wondering if super athletes have a secret list of goals that they simply keep to themselves? Maybe this reachable stat might just keep him around a year or two more? One can only hope.

My guess is most don't. If that were the case, Tom Brady would've retired when "Madden 16" wanted him to. I think the super athletes are motivated by the idea of extracting all that potential greatness from their bodies.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

What does the head coach do on his day off (if he has one)?

That depends. Is there a Sizzler in town?

Jeff from Ripon, WI

Has there ever been a rookie that has won the MVP?

Jim Brown (1957).

Markus from Aurora, CO

Wes and Mike, it's upon us. From here on out, for the next four months, every game counts, and every play can tip the scale one way or another. One opponent at a time. From now on, it gets real. Did I forget anything?

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

Steve from Smithfield, NC

II and Insiders: Last year at this time, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Her prognosis was not good, but with God's help, amazingly enough we are BOTH anxiously anticipating the start of a NEW season. Thank you, the "Insiders" and the PACKERS for the diversion in the last year. We both are awaiting being called the "winningest team in NFL history!" Go Pack Go! Just beat the Vikings!

God bless you and your better half, Steve. Keep fighting the good fight and enjoying another season of Packers football. We'll keep sending positive vibes your way. Have a deep and appreciative day, everyone.